Human Rights

Chinese miner in jail for raping underage


GWERU – A Chinese miner was remanded in custody after appearing in the Gweru Magistrate’s Court on allegations of rape and impregnating a 16-year-old girl.

The juvenile has since given birth to a baby girl last year.

Zhang Zhaowen (51), of Derby 14A Mine in Guinea Fowl, Gweru, was brought before Gweru Regional Magistrate Christopher Maturure and charged with one count of raping a juvenile.

He was remanded in custody until his next court appearance on June 28, 2024.

Zhaowen, who was represented by Justice Chidawanyika, was not asked to plead but was advised to apply for bail at the High Court.

According to the court documents, the 16-year-old victim, whose name has been withheld, was employed as a general cleaner at the Derby mining company.

On November 15, 2022 at around 1 pm, Zhaowen allegedly approached the girl while she was alone, grabbed her by the collar, and dragged her to his office, where he Is accused of forcefully having unprotected sexual intercourse with her.

After the heinous assault, Zhaowen then fired the complainant from her job.

The matter came to light when the victim visited her mother, who became suspicious and discovered that her daughter was pregnant.

Upon questioning, the girl revealed that she had been sexually abused by her former employer.

The court heard that on July 2, 2023, the complainant gave birth to a baby girl, and the case was subsequently reported to the police, leading to Zhaowen’s arrest.

Cases of abuse by Chinese investors in the mining sector have been rampant, with labor unions and human rights advocates calling on the government to stop the menace.

Young girls, often driven by circumstances and poverty, are at risk of exploitation, and many remain silent about the abuses they face.

Recently, the Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union (ZDAMWU) wrote to the government, urging them to investigate labor violations and sexual exploitation of female employees at some Chinese-owned companies by senior Chinese management.

In a separate incident last week in Kwekwe, a Chinese national, Cai Yulong (58), was arraigned before the courts for allegedly shooting and killing an artisanal miner and severely injuring two others for trespassing into his mine in Zhombe.

Cai is facing a murder charge, attempted murder and assault charges.

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